Michelle Obama presents National Medal to 10 libraries, museums

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   May 18, 2015 at 3:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- First lady Michelle Obama on Monday presented the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to 10 cultural institutions she praised for helping to keep people "from falling through the cracks."

The medals are given each year to 10 cultural institutions for outstanding service to their respective communities. The 21st annual event was held in the East Room of the White House.

In presenting the awards, Obama dismissed the idea that museums and libraries are often seen as an unnecessary luxury in society and that the federal government should give more attention to things like creating jobs and making sure children have a good education.

"We know that so often our libraries and museums are doing the critical work to help us achieve those goals in the first place. We can't get to our goals without the work that you all do on the ground," she said.

Obama said she knows the work library and museum workers do isn't easy.

"I know that you're always strapped for time and money, always scrambling to meet those fundraising goals and those grant applications," she said. "But the services that you all provide are not luxuries; just the opposite. Every day, your institutions are keeping so many folks in this country from falling through the cracks."

This year's winners include Amazement Square in Lynchburg, Va.; Cecil County Public Library in Elkton, Md.; Craig Public Library in Craig, Alaska; Embudo Valley Library and Community Center in Dixon, N.M.; Los Angeles Public Library; Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans; Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, N.M.; New York Hall of Science in Queens, N.Y.; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.

Each of the 10 museums and libraries awarded this year will be visited by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of Americans. StoryCorps will document stories from the communities of each winning institution.

"These National Medal recipients have demonstrated a genuine understanding of their communities and are committed to addressing community needs," said Maura Marx, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "IMLS believes museums and libraries are vital community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural and educational opportunities, and economic vitality. The remarkable community contributions these institutions have made are proof positive of this."

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